The federal government has brought forward the distribution of its annual Financial Assistance Grants (FASGs) scheme and, at the same time, announced a new scheme – the Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program [LRCIP] – to assist local governments.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a media release that this “package of support will … also help communities battling the effects of COVID-19”.
Page MP Kevin Hogan said in a media release that he “will be working closely” with councils in his electorate to “make sure projects get under way as soon as possible”.
“Local road projects may include constructing or improving bridges, street lighting and heavy vehicle facilities, such as rest areas,” he said.
“Community infrastructure projects could include new bicycle and walking paths, picnic shelters or barbeque facilities at parks.
“It is about supporting local jobs and businesses.”
As a result, Clarence Valley Council (CVC) will receive an unexpected windfall of $7,888,366 on July 1: $5,836,970 (FAGs) plus $2,051,366 (LRCIP) – FAGs revenue is usually distributed over a 12-month period.
The Independent asked CVC’s general manager, Ashley Lindsay: How might the LRCIP cash be used and how and when will that decision be made?
Mr Lindsay said: “At this stage we haven’t received any formal notification of the funding from the federal government’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
“We will report the funding to council’s June meeting so we can include it in the2020/21 budget.
“Like the Roads to Recovery Program, council is required to submit a schedule of works to the department.
“The works have to be completed by 30 June 2021.”
On receiving the FAGs money in one lump sum, Mr Lindsay said CVC would be able to invest the “funds and earn interest” prior to it being expended.
Funding allocations for the LRCIP funding allocations are “calculated in a similar way to how the Roads to Recovery Program and the road component of the Financial Assistance Grants work”.
“This formula takes into consideration road length and population and is based on recommendations of local government grants commissions,” the investment.infrastructure.gov.au website states.
“Councils will be able to select the projects to be funded in their community, according to priorities at the local level.
“As long as these projects are eligible local road or community infrastructure projects, they will receive funding.”